The Glory Has Departed

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a third one has been sent now.

Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Small s for the Scriptures - DP Buchholz Sent This Around -
From an Anonymous Source. Sounds Like Mequon.
Were 50+ Pages from Webber Not Enough Torture?

It has been said by some that the doctrine of objective justification is too hard to understand. It has been said that it makes what the scriptures present so simply, complicated. But I would contend that objective justification attempts to do justice to everything that the scriptures say without diminishing the value of either the sacrifice of Christ or Holy Spirit worked faith. To demonstrate this point there follows a brief outline of the order of salvation with emphasis specifically upon the issues under discussion. The passages that are cited were chosen because they are commonly used among us. They are not to be considered the only passages which address a point but they are considered by the author to be among the best to display that a given point is found in the Bible.

I want to begin with God’s intent. There will be no debate among us that God desires that everyone be saved. In the passage below it tells us clearly that God sent Jesus into the world to save the world. That was the purpose of his coming. By the world we understand all people of all time. Jesus did not come only to save believers. If we state that Jesus’ intent and goal in coming or God’s intent in sending him, was to save only believers, we would fall into the error of John Calvin. He placed the blame for the condemnation of the unbeliever squarely on God’s shoulders. He answered the question: “why do some go to heaven and others not?” by saying that those who are lost are lost because God didn’t want to save them. He chose them to go to hell before the creation of the world. Therefore Christ didn’t come to save all people, he came only to save believers. But this stands in direct conflict with the passage below and others in the scriptures.

John 3 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.

The Bible tells us that God’s intent was to save the world. It also tells us that he followed through on that intent. God sent Jesus to save the world. So Jesus is the Savior of all people. He saved all people by dying on the cross. When it is said that Jesus saved all people it is meant that he affected a rescue for all people at the cross. His death on the cross is the atoning sacrifice for sins. What is an atoning sacrifice? A sacrifice of atonement was offered to make people clean. That is what God tells his people in Leviticus 16:30 “because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before the LORD, you will be clean from all your sins”. In our confirmation classes we often use a play on words to explain what it means to atone. We tell the children that atone mean to make “at-one”. The cleansing of sin removes the barrier that stands between people and God. Sin is a barrier that separates people from God. We attribute this to God’s perfection and justice. God expects all people to be perfect as he is perfect. There isn’t a single person apart from Jesus who lives up to God’s expectation. Nor is any person, apart from Christ, by their own strength capable of doing everything necessary to win God’s favor and a place in heaven. Therefore God must step in to save people. This is what he did in Christ. Jesus offered himself as the sacrifice of atonement. He made payment for the sins of all people believers and unbelievers alike.

1 Timothy 4:9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance 10 (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.

I John 2:1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

There are other words in the Bible that have the concept of payment associated with them. Redeem, which means to buy back or to pay a ransom. Jesus’ final words on the cross “it is finished” are a single word in the Greek language. That word has been found written on the bottom of ancient invoices to indicate that the balance had been paid. When payment is made something is received in return. The payment that Jesus made was his blood which he poured out while hanging on the cross. That payment was made to God. That payment purchased all people believers and unbelievers alike. That the payment was of sufficient value cannot be debated. On the cross was offered the God-man Jesus Christ. This payment was of sufficient value to pay for an infinite number of people, for an infinite number of sins. Thus we can say that Jesus bought all people. Even those who deny him were bought and are owned by God. People have no role in any of this. God’s ownership is not dependant on a person’s faith or any other factor. God owns a person because he paid for them at the cross.

2 Peter 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.

There is another way to think about what happened at the cross. Not only did Christ make a payment but he also suffered the consequences for our sin. We know this because while he was hanging on the cross Jesus experienced separation from God, which prompted him to say “my God my God why have you forsaken me!” Additionally Jesus also suffered the ultimate consequence of sin, which is death. Jesus should not have died. As a perfect human being he could have lived for all eternity in harmony with God. But because he took the sins of all people on himself, he was subject to the penalty of those sins, so Jesus died. When Jesus died he suffered the punishment that those sins deserved. The death Jesus experienced was both physical and spiritual death. So it can be said that Jesus endured hell while he was on the cross. Jesus was punished, enduring death for every sin of every person. So when Jesus died the sinner died. The wages of their sin had been paid to Jesus and he endured the consequences.

2 Corinthians 5:14 For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

The sentence for sin is death. Jesus endured that sentence for the sins of the world. By his death Jesus satisfied God’s perfect justice. The wages of sin had been paid upon Christ. We know God was satisfied because Jesus rose from the dead on Easter morning. With justice satisfied and having purchased all people there is nothing standing between a person and God other than their own unbelief. In this way God reconciled all people to himself. Reconcile means to restore friendly relations. This reconciliation was achieved at the cross. But why does the Bible then speak of God’s anger over sin? The Bible contains two messages, Law and Gospel. The Law only proclaims God’s anger over sin. Though fulfilled by Christ the Law continues to proclaim its message of anger and destruction. The message of the Law cannot change. It will continue to condemn all sinners till the end of time. But the message of the law doesn’t negate the message of the gospel. If it did then we would all be going to hell. Instead we believe that God was reconciled to sinners at the cross.

Colossians 1:19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Romans 5:6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

The Gospel is the good news. It tells us everything that God has done. God gave us the Gospel so that we would know what Jesus did for us. It gives to us the promises that God makes to sinners.

John 20: 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

The Gospel shares what God has done for sinners. It also calls those same sinners to believe its message. The Gospel tells people that Jesus died for their sins. It tells them that Jesus paid the penalty for them. The Gospel tells them that Jesus satisfied God’s perfect justice on the cross. The Gospel tells them that God is reconciled to sinners. The Gospel tells sinners all these things. We share the Gospel message with people in the hope that they will believe what Jesus has done for them. We hope that they will trust in the promises that God has made to them in his word. We hope that they will believe that what God says to them in the Bible is true.

John 3 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

But we also recognize that no one can come to believe God’s promises on their own. All people come into this world as enemies of God. They are hostile to him and they reject his promises. On their own a person is unable to change their attitude toward God and his word. Therefore the Holy Spirit works through the message of the Gospel, contained in the means of grace, to change the heart of a person. Conversion then is solely the work of God through the means of grace, which are the gospel in word and sacrament. A person is converted when, by the Holy Spirit, they believe or trust, in God, in God’s promises, in Jesus, and in Jesus’ work as outlined above. This is commonly described as “believing” or “having faith”. Those who have faith receive what God promises. They become the beneficiaries of the victory that Jesus won for all by his perfect life and death on the cross. This is referred to as subjective justification. Subjective justification means that what Jesus did for all people he also did for the individual. Therefore we acknowledge and affirm that we are justified by faith.

Titus 3: 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

Those who believe have the hope of eternal life. Jesus certainly made payment for every sin. He suffered death on behalf of every person. Through the cross God is reconciled to sinners. But heaven is for those who are heirs by faith in Christ.

1 Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

Some might say it is inconsistent that God would do everything for sinners and then turn some away. But it is God who has set up the requirement of faith, and his decisions are not subject to our logic. That being said God does give us the reason in the Bible for why those who do not believe go to hell. God makes it very clear in the Bible that those who go to hell go there because of their own choice. They shoulder all the blame for their own destruction. God did everything for them. He did not treat anyone differently. God gave everyone the same chance under the cross. But there will be many, we are told, who will not accept God’s help. They will refuse to admit that they need help. They will say that the promises God makes aren’t true. They will even deny that God exists at all. In short, there will be many who will call God a liar. In so doing they make the decision to stand before God without Jesus. God calls people to believe in him. He pleads with them to leave their sinful ways behind them. He exhorts people to listen to the gospel. He encourages them to believe his promises. But he does not force them. We believe and teach that people come to faith only by the power of God without any cooperation on their part. But we also believe and teach that each person has the power and authority to reject the gift of God and be lost. God has made it possible for every sinner to be in heaven. Jesus fulfilled the requirements for everyone. The ultimate question then becomes does the sinner believe it? Those who believe go to heaven for all eternity. Those who do not believe refuse Jesus’ help and stand before God on their own merits and receive the sentence their merits deserve, an eternity in hell.

2 Peter 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.

1 John 5: 10 Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.

It is the hope that this presentation will serve to show that objective and subjective justification are based upon and flow from the Bible. This distinction in the concept of justification helps the Lutheran church avoid the pitfalls that come with trying to answer the question “why do some go to heaven and others not?” We avoid the danger of limiting the work of Christ only to those who believe, by proclaiming an objective justification. We then avoid the opposite extreme of universalism by proclaiming a subjective justification. Every other approach seems inadequate or insufficient.

Soli Deo Gloria